Gabbitas Education answer your questions on managing a gifted and talented child, guardianship and the motivational benefits of hiring a tutor

My daughter’s primary school has suggested she may fall into the ‘gifted and talented’ category. I’m uncertain what this means, so would it be a good idea to get further advice or look for a school that has expertise in managing her academic and pastoral needs?

The Department of Education and Skills defines those supported by the national programme for gifted and talented education as those with abilities at a significantly higher level to their peers. The word ‘gifted’, is usually associated with academic level, and ‘talented’ refers to other areas such as sport, drama, art or music.

At Gabbitas, we are often contacted by anxious parents who say, ‘my daughter came out of school in tears today as she was asked to put her hand down and give the other children a chance to answer.’  Is it any wonder that a bright child may become disengaged from classwork and start to either switch off or become disheartened?

Many primary schools have an excellent provision for G&T children, but parents may like to consider the private school option where class sizes are smaller and, as such, the academic pace is a little faster.

If finances are an issue – as they are for so many in the current climate – many private schools offer scholarships in different disciplines. These might include academic, music, the arts, and sport and are offered to pupils who are particularly gifted and talented. Furthermore, these scholarships can also be supplemented with a means-tested bursary, with some schools offering extremely generous bursaries of up to 100% for a particularly talented young person.

Every school has a different procedure for scholarships, whether that be attaining the best marks at the academic assessment, an excellent reference from their current school, an impressive interview or more specific assessments in music, all-round ability or sport.

Applying for a scholarship is the easy part; applying for a bursary can take considerably longer – and not everyone will be successful – but if your child is happy and thriving at school, the hard work and form filling is a necessary evil. It would be a good idea to seek further advice and explore the options available to ensure that your child achieves their potential.

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Bursaries and scholarships may be one route to explore to help a gifted and talented child thrive

We’ve been put on watch that my job may require a spell overseas in about 12-18 months’ time. This would be a bad time to move our older son out of UK education. We don’t have a big family support network, so would guardianship be an option and how does this work?

Guardianship (to cover exeat weekends and sometimes half terms for boarders) is obviously a big decision. Schools will normally insist that a guardian be within a maximum journey time from the school of around two hours.

Obviously, many would choose family, but when they do not have any friends or family locally or feel the responsibility may be an unfair burden on them, guardianship agencies (such as Gabbitas) are set up to fill that gap.

The agency itself is the ‘guardian’ and can give support and advice on a whole range of issues and act as a central point of contact between the school and parents. Agencies vet and recruit a network of host families to provide support and accommodation to students whose parents are based overseas. 

The profile of these families varies – from those whose own children have flown the nest to those who still have school-aged children but perhaps want to broaden the family’s horizons. Good agencies visit all applicant host families and carry out vigorous checks and take up several references. 

To ensure that you are happy with the regular host family for your child, you will usually be sent details of a couple of families for you to choose from and there may also be the chance to visit them and form a direct contact before you depart overseas.

As well as linking you up with a host family, the agency will assign a named consultant to your child who can provide ongoing support to you and your child throughout their time at school on a myriad of issues such as buying school uniform, setting up a bank account for pocket money and liaising with boarding and academic staff at the school.

Having an agency and a host family support your child means that there is also always 24/7 cover in an emergency and a reserve host can be found if this ever proves necessary. This is often such a fruitful relationship. In our experience, bonds made between host families and students can last long after school life finishes!

“A tutor/mentor is the best of both worlds – a good role model can have an extraordinary impact on a young person’s confidence and wellbeing”

Our child’s self-assurance and academic motivation seem at a really low ebb after remote school last year. We are wondering if a tutor could give support to help boost both their learning approach and confidence. What are your thoughts?

In a report by The Lancet, June 2020 the opening paragraph states: ‘Adolescence (the stage between 10 and 24 years) is a period of life characterised by heightened sensitivity to social stimuli and the increased need for peer interaction.’

Is it any wonder that many teenagers and younger children have found distance learning extremely challenging?  Schools have gone above and beyond to try and engage pupils with their learning and make lessons more accessible and enjoyable but, when much of the fun has been taken out of day-to-day living, sitting in front of a computer to learn can be rather a dry experience.

Feeling isolated and lonely is horrible at any age but even more so as a teenager – and these feelings can be exacerbated when learning online is difficult.  It is all too easy to fall behind in class and become demotivated – it becomes a vicious cycle.

We have suggested to many families during this difficult time to engage a tutor or a mentor.  A tutor/mentor is the best of both worlds. The best tend to be young people, with energy, motivation, leadership qualities, teaching ability and an engaging personality. A good role model can have an extraordinary impact on a young person’s confidence and wellbeing.

Tutors can help pupils revisit topics and talk through areas that they are unsure about, thereby increasing pupils’ confidence and ensuring they have full understanding of a subject, but also helping them enjoy learning once more. Agencies like Gabbitas can help you find suitable tutors, so please do get in touch with us if you’d like to hear more.

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